Best interest of child decides custody decisions in Missouri

When it comes to child custody decisions, many fathers’ rights advocacy groups say that the court system still favors mothers, making it difficult for a father to be a part of his child’s life.

In a recent article published in The State Journal-Register, one 39-year-old father shared his story and the eight month battle he went through in order to have parenting rights to his 16-month old daughter.

The father said that in 2009 he met the now-mother of his daughter, and after a month of knowing her the two found out that they were going to be having a child. However, the relationship between the father and little girl’s mother did not work out, and in 2010 the two split. From there, he found himself in court fighting for his rights as a father.

As of now, he gets to see his daughter two nights a week and every other weekend. However, to get there the father said it was an uphill battle, and that he still has to pay $700 a month in child support for a daughter that he doesn’t get to see as much as he’d like.

According to one spokesman for a fathers’ rights advocacy group, when looking at the trend of fathers and child custody in the court system, before 1925 dads actually were awarded custody after a divorce. However, all of that changed in 1925 when the “Tender Years” doctrine came into play, which presumed that a mother had closer bonds with their children and should therefore be awarded custody.

However, in the 1970s the “Bests Interests” doctrine, which is still used today, replaced the Tender Years and stated that child custody decisions would be made based on what is in the best interest of the child. But, even though that doctrine is still supposed to be used in the family law court system today, many claim that custody is still disproportionately awarded to mothers.

Of course, this does not mean that fathers never receive custody, and in fact in Missouri the law is a presumption of joint custody. And while there may still be some challenges, for fathers looking to receive full custody it’s best to start the custody proceedings by being optimistic and being ready to show that primary custody with their dad, or even joint custody, would be in the best interest of the child.

Source: The State Journal-Register, “Father’s groups argue court system biased against dads,” Andy Brownfield, 18 June 2011

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